You have probably heard this story from the Bible found in Luke 19:3-5. Jesus was passing through the city of Jericho and a large crowd had gathered.
Zacchaeus, a tax collector could not see Jesus through the crowd, so he climbed a nearby tree for a better view. Zacchaeus “was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house. And he came down quickly and received him with joy.” -Luke 19:3-5
When I was a little girl, I used to disappear for hours up in a tree on the side of our house. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the safest climbing or lounging around tree. It was an old pine tree planted snuggly between two houses with scraggly branches that were of questionable width to hold a child of my size. Most days I’d only climb up a few branches, just high enough to hide from my parents and more importantly my little sister. I guess I needed my alone time even back then!
Some days I’d just sit there and revel in my “me time,” sometimes I’d bring a book, sometimes I’d pray or people watch, and sometimes I’d use my fingernails to carve my initials, a heart and the initials of my latest crush into the tree trunk. Other days I’d climb that tree much higher than I should have (high enough to see into my bedroom windows on our second floor). I’d have a heart attack if I found my kids up in a tree that high (sorry mom and dad)!
While I’m not necessarily recommending everyone runs into their backyard to literally climb your trees, I do believe we can learn something from the story of Zacchaeus and childhood tree climbing.
1.) Climbing trees gives us a better view.
Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, so he climbed a tree for a better view! This seems like an obvious solution to the problem, but he was the ONLY one that figured it out. He had a problem: the crowd was thick and he wouldn’t be able to see Jesus when he passed by. He could have just stayed in the crowd contently, but he found a solution!
Do you ever find yourself bogged down in your problems (large or small) and that’s where it ends (you are frustrated and sulky)?
Climb a tree and find a solution to your problem!
Recently one of my little guys had been waking up every morning in a puddle of pee. As I entered his room every morning, I was greeted by “all wet mommy.” This led to me not only washing his bed sheets and mattress protector daily, but also the two blankets and slew of stuffed animal buddies he insists on sleeping with. One day, I was telling a friend about our potty issues and she said, “have you tried those overnight diapers.” I was like, “huh, nope.” Well, we ran out and got those magic overnight diapers and sure enough, no more “all wet” issues.
This is a small example of “stuff” in our lives; I was so bogged down in the problem and what I thought was the solution (loads of laundry) that I never really took time to consider a better solution. I needed to climb a tree on that one!
2.) Climbing trees gives us a fresh perspective.
I was standing in line a few weeks ago waiting for a voting booth to open up. There were dozens of people in front of me in line patiently waiting and from my angle I could clearly see there were at least five voting booths open at the very end. Everyone was just standing there, waiting for a safe booth to open up near them. I ended up motioning to people the entire time I was standing in line, letting them know when the booths at the end opened up.
How many times do we unintentionally and blindly follow the crowd?
You always hear that “when God closes a door, He opens a window.” Well, I’ll add that sometimes you might need to climb a tree to be able to see that open window.
3.) Climbing trees gives us time to reflect.
A few nights ago, I was sitting at our table eating dinner with my lovely little family. The radio was on in the background, the boys were jabbering (probably whining) and my husband was talking with me about our days. I had a moment of sensory overload! Suddenly everything just seems so loud, even the lights seemed to be yelling at me. Does that ever happen to you? Let’s just say I had to excuse myself and regroup in my tree (dark bedroom) for a few minutes.
We live fast-paced, loud, constant ON, ON, ON lives!
Sometimes we need to climb our tree for a little regroup, alone time.
It helps to get some quiet (even if it is a few seconds). Sometimes I’ll sneak sock-footed into our freezing cold garage just for 10 seconds of quiet. I can still hear the boys screaming behind the door, but it does seem like quiet comparatively. I’ll send up a quick prayer, eat a piece of chocolate and re-enter the house as super mom.
4.) Climbing trees allows you to be uniquely you!
We wait in an agonizingly long bathroom line at a sporting event or theater show only to find out there have been 5 stalls open the entire time. Look for feet people! Or everyone snails through one open door in a long line instead of opening a few more doors and starting new paths into the building. All of the doors work people!
It isn’t always that we want to blend in (although sometimes we do); we are just going about our lives doing what people do. It’s easy to slip into the habit of thinking the right thing to do is the thing that everyone else is doing.
Can we really be the best versions of ourselves if we ALWAYS play it safe by keeping our feet firmly on the ground and by neatly following the person ahead of us in line?
I don’t think so. I think we are being called to do more. Zacchaeus wasn’t afraid of what other people were going to say or think about him when he climbed that tree, he just did it.
What is holding you back in life from being YOU?!
I had a pedicure recently with a dear friend. She had a wedding to go to and she was agonizing over what shade of nail polish to pick. She didn’t want people to judge her or comment on her toe nails if the shade of pink didn’t perfectly match her dress. I didn’t know what to say, because I’m pretty sure I was getting mine painted dark blue or purple! Anyway, this is just a small example of how much power we let other people have over our decisions and lives.
Back on toes, if you love the color mauve on your toes (Mom), then rock out mauve every time. BUT don’t choose the safe choice because of fear. Don’t let others keep you from being uniquely you. Climb that tree and paint your nails up there!
5.) Climbing trees helps us be goofy.
We are way too serious! I heard recently that adults laugh fewer than 15-20 times a day (compared to a child who laughs about 400 times a day). How sad is that! I’ve been talking about climbing figurative trees in our lives, well, if you have a good climbing tree…climb it literally too. Or do something else child-like and do it until you…giggle, giggle, toot.
Side Note: I feel like I should put something lawyer-y in here about tree climbing. So, if you climb a tree and hurt yourself, Natasha and Giggle Giggle Toot Roar will not be held responsible for any injury or consequences resulting in your tree climbing/falling.